Dealing with redundancy emotionally can be difficult for everyone involved. Many times I have had the horrible experience of sitting down in front of people to tell them they are being made redundant. It’s a very stressful situation for all concerned and no matter how professional you think you are, it’s emotionally, physically, mentally and socially draining.

Here are 8 steps to help you cope with the redundancy process and start to move towards the next step in your career.

1. If you are going to take it personally, make it quick.

Being made redundant is just horrible and can be a real shock emotionally. It doesn’t really help you when HR people tell you it’s the role that’s being made redundant rather than you but there is real truth in that. Thinking of it this way can help and there is no shame in being made redundant as I’ve seen very skilful, brilliant people made redundant due to a change in business focus. The trick is to not dwell on it too long. Moaning to your colleagues friends and family may feel helpful but the BIG problem is that there is no action taken and that’s why I say if you are going to take it personally, make it quick.

2. Drop the cynicism about any offer of free support available.

If the company offers any kind of free support with redundancy, take it and make it work for you. In a stressful situation the real danger is that your perspective narrows and you only see things one way – your way. Taking up free support is a great way to challenge your own thinking and perspective and therefore help you deal with redundancy. It can often open up opportunities that you might not have thought of.

3. Stop looking back and focus on what you want to gain.

Redundancy can be a brilliant opportunity to do something new. Try to see your self less as a role and more of a skill set that’s transferable. If your perfect job demands a certain skill or qualification that you don’t have, could you obtain what’s missing with any redundancy money? Remember that many employers value character and experience over skill set and may be willing to train you. What about approaching the potential employer and explaining you are willing to train in that specific skill and opening up a conversation? In doing so, you may make a good impression; have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If you are looking backwards and dwelling on what’s gone then you are already facing the wrong direction. It’s not helping you deal with redundancy and can just add to the stress.

4. Don’t carry around baggage.

I’ve interviewed people facing redundancy and often found myself in a situation where these people are given preferential treatment before any other applicants. That’s a good thing in my mind because it’s in the spirit of an organisation committed to retaining people rather than losing expertise. The challenge is that some of the applicants bring their baggage to the interview. Their anger and frustration comes to the surface, works against them and it is easy to see they are not dealing with redundancy well. It’s understandable although it can get in the way of providing clear, relevant examples of why you are right for the role. Make sure you work through points 1-3 to help avoid bringing your baggage with you.

5. It’s not falling in the water that makes you drown, it staying there that does.

In other words, take action. When dealing with redundancy you can draw up lots of options to move forward and plan things through in your head but without action all of that stuff is just a wish list. Take a first step, any step and work from there as you’ll soon pick up pace as you start to move.

6. Look around you.

Lots of people define themselves by their job and when that’s in danger it can be seem like the end of world. Take a step back and ask yourself is it your whole world? Try to focus on the other good things in your life like family, friends and activities and make time for them. In times of uncertainty and unfamiliarity we have things around us that can give us certainty and familiarity although we tend to take them for granted.

7. Put yourself first and the business you are working for second.

Dealing with redundancy has a strong motivation. The reality of the situation is that shortly you could be without employment and that has big implications for you. If you’ve worked for a company for a long time it’s easy to continue to be loyal and put the companies needs ahead of your own. 

Continue to be professional and constructive but recognise that now is the time to act in your own interests and put your needs and interests first. Take the time to prepare and attend interviews and prioritise that free redundancy support. Ask if the business will allow you a percentage of your time to do this. Explain to your boss what you are doing and ask for their support. You might be surprised by their answer.

8. Look after your mental health

Redundancy can understandably take a toll on mental health and wellbeing as many of us often define ourselves by our profession. If you are a man reading this know that you are especially susceptible. According to figures from Mind, one in seven men develop depression within six months of losing their job.

Regardless of gender if your feelings are impacting your day-to-day life then try to open up and talk to someone you trust about those feelings. When facing a big transition like redundancy you may feel the urge to push constantly forward but it’s important to look after your wellbeing too.

GP’s are a great source of support. Don’t be afraid to contact yours.

Self-care techniques and general lifestyle changes can also help you manage symptoms of stress or mental health problems although they are buffers. A useful way to think of the basics is to stay STRONG

S – Sleep.
Understandably, sleep is crucial in helping you stay mentally buoyant. Try to get a good night’s rest.

T – Take Responsibility.
Listen out for and notice signs of your energy flagging and take action where you can. Energy is more than physical. It could be your mental, emotional or social energy.

R – Resist Excess
Too much of anything in excess can work against you. Like most things in life try to find a balance. It may be tempting to focus devote all your time mentally to finding work although that comes at a cost.

0 – Once A Day Do Something That Adds Value To Your Life

It doesn’t have to be a big thing. Just something small that you value. These small things are often our saving graces and yet they are the first things we sacrifice when feeling stressed and pressured.

N – Nutrition

We all know what we should be eating and drinking. Now is the time to try and ensure we focus on the basics of diet.

G – Get Exercise

Physical activity and being outdoors are proven to boost mood and improve mental wellbeing. Any exercise is better than none.

Finally, I’d say beware of mindfulness as it is not recommended for everyone. Mindfulness works for some people but becoming more aware of your thoughts and feelings can initially make you feel worse. Particularly if you are feeling unwell, to begin with.

If you know someone facing redundancy or dealing with significant change please share this post. I write with the intention of helping people work better, live better and feel better and sharing may just help someone do just that.

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